Feeding Friday- Paula and Maggie

I am SO in love with this week’s Feeding Friday tale from Paula. It’s amusing, moving, shows courage and grit, as well as calm acceptance of the reality. Mindset can be crucial, and the way this Mama made it work is pretty impressive. Some excellent tips for partners in there too…
The beginning:
I agreed to be induced at 41+4 after having been against the idea for my whole pregnancy, but it was my first pregnancy and I’d been in a bad car accident at 29 weeks and was very nervous about getting the baby out. Anyway the induction ended with an emergency cesarean after which I breastfed for just 24 hours. The reason for this was after the birth we discovered there was a problem with my baby’s bowel and she needed emergency surgery. So at just 2 days old she had to be transferred to a London hospital where she would spend 11 days in total- 8 of them with no food whatsoever, just IV fluids!
After seeing how sick my baby was, and how hungry, I became soooo determined to breastfeed and make it to 6 months, so I made sure I expressed in the hospital while she recovered. This helped as it actually gave me something productive to focus on, instead of jumping at every beep from the monitor by her bedside and driving all the nurses nuts! We gave her tiny amounts of milk to begin with through a syringe and when she was finally able the first actual feed post-recovery was pure magic!
Sad faces 🙁 and things people did to help:
When we got home Maggie fed almost every hour or so, it was exhausting and sometimes painful and I did have a little cry at 4am once or twice, but it passed- I found ways around it- at its worst I was taking paracetamol 30mins before a feed and promising myself chocolate for immediately afterwards! My breastfeeding adventure has been massively propped up by Cadbury’s by the way and I’ve thrown my head back and laughed at any previous ambitions to ‘lose the pregnancy weight’ as I’ve scoffed back dairy milk after dairy milk, a delighted maniac.
Breastfeeding made my life really simple- feed the child!- everything else can wait. I also have a lovely husband who is very pro-breastfeeding and he did all the cooking, cleaning and patiently ran around after me with all the things I forgot (phone, charger, water etc!) he was also on hand with hugs and encouragement, 5 months on he still is. This has been crucial to our success as we’re both Irish and have no family support here.
Seeking out more help:
I only knew what I read on the internet before I began breastfeeding. I spent countless feeds reading about breastfeeding on the internet (lalecheleague, Kellymom, thenaturalchildproject were the best) I also met with a lactation consultant in the hospital and this really helped me. I’d been wandering around with Dolly Parton-esque engorged breasts while Maggie recovered. I was equal parts intrigued and frightened by them so it was a relief when the LC gave me practical advice but also told jokes. A good laugh was what I needed to forget the silly ‘I must get this right’ mentality I’d picked up from God knows where. My health visitor then recommended different positions for feeding (especially as the cesarean stitches were really starting to hurt) and the one I finally found to suit both me and the baby was lying down; breakthrough- more sleep at night, more cuddles during the day. Win win.
Other helpful things:
Boots had a half price sale on Lansinoh Lanolin Cream- (must keep eyes peeled for those, it’s 11.95 full price!) I bought a tube for every room in the house, it is truly the MacGuyver of creams.
I spent the first 6 weeks lying on the couch watching Netflix and eating chocolate – have I mentioned the chocolate- and it was superb. If it’s your first and you have the luxury of doing something like this, then definitely do it.
I found it handy to fill a tray in the morning with snacks, drinks, wipes and whatever else I’d need. This tray would be on hand for the day.
I began breastfeeding in public from 6 weeks. I just didn’t look at anyone and got on with it at first. As I’ve begun looking at people I’ve noticed I get lots of smiles from people young and old, especially women. It really is lovely.
Breastmilk left to air-dry on your nipples followed by lanolin cream is the best remedy for sore nipples!
Next time?
I’ve had to throw caution to the wind with the entire experience so far- the birth, the breastfeeding– neither were how I’d imagined them to be. I often wonder if I’d got the water birth I’d wanted would Maggie’s bowel problem have been spotted as quick? And if I hadn’t had the shock of seeing her so ill would I have been as determined to breastfeed? Either way I’m grateful things happened the way they did- breastfeeding requires grit, and while I’m not sure I ever had it before I definitely do now! Would I do anything different next time? Hard to say, I think I just had to muddle through in my own way to get to where I am, so no probably not. I’ll make it to my 6 month goal and beyond, I would miss it too much to stop now.
To a mother considering breastfeeding:
Once you get over the initial hump (for me it was 8 weeks but I was also dealing with a cesarean) breastfeeding really is very easy. It makes you quicker to leave the house, it burns many many calories (ahem) but most of all you cannot overstate the satisfaction you get from squeezing your baby’s fat 5 month old thigh and saying ‘I made this’. Also, it’s been said many times but it’s true- never quit on a bad day.
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